BCARS (Bournemouth Christians Alongside Rough Sleepers) brought together 25 Churches, over 350 volunteers and served over 500 people as they sought to escape homelessness from 2015 to 2020. Through Sleepsafe alone in those 5 years, over 180 people moved from living on the street to more secure accommodation. We are so grateful to everyone who was a part of that… and to God for His provision, for safety, and for His strength that kept people going.
As we all know in 2020, times changed. During Covid, the Everyone In policy ensured that people could get off the street quickly. So churches and the team at Faithworks pivoted to new projects – generous people helped provide and pack and deliver food parcels, a Storehouse of furniture was set up to furnish fresh start homes and daytime activities such as Staysafe became hugely important. On top of that a new Homelessness Partnership for BCP took off – we here at Faithworks were proud to be founder members and it now has 40+ different member organisations including specific churches.
As the need continues to change, so do the new ideas and initiatives – our friends at Routes to Roots opened the Genesis centre in Poole this year, and we have been working closely with the wonderful team at the Healthbus. Meanwhile teams at In Touch ministries, Hope for Food, Winton Salvation Army, BH1 and churches in Poole continue to faithfully serve a hot meal to the most marginalised week by week.
We recognised that this was a new season – especially as it is clear that the work is not just about rough sleepers nor is it just in Bournemouth. New seasons need new thinking.
That is why Faithworks are launching 2 new programmes:
First, the We’re Here network: Many Churches in BCP are opening their doors offering a Hub-type facility which will provide either a community café or foodbank or just a place where people can come for activities to reduce social isolation. Several of these churches have now started working together facilitated by the team at Faithworks with the vision of: “Churches and Christians working together across BCP providing SAFE places to prayerfully offer Practical help, Positive relationships, and Purpose for life activities across the week. You’ll hear more about this in coming weeks, but having many more safe places to go to find care, friendship and support is critical for those experiencing all forms of homelessness.
Second, and as just as important, is the Arch programme: a new Faithworks programme providing strong support from a life on the margins (whether rough sleeping, living with addiction or other challenges) to a life of resilience and purpose. The idea of strong support that provides direction from one place to a new one made us think of an Arch! It’s made up of 3 parts:
- Connect: a front-door for those on the street to get the basics of food, washing etc. This is a place to tell their story and to take the first steps away from the old life. Our Half-time venue and partnerships with the Healthbus and the Community Meals are where this journey begins.
- Purpose: a regular Monday to Friday routine of activities that help those in temporary shelter with important admin tasks such as online benefit support and ID, trying out new skills for life, and accessing addiction recovery support all at safe spaces and with a positive community.
- Training: practical placements (carpentry, gardening, storehouse logistics, or other placements) for those who feel ready and able to move towards learning skills and increasing employability. There will also be additional support to help with CVs, work references, interview preparation and more.
Look out for the new Arch logo, and stories of the difference that Faithworks Arch is making.